Social Indicators Research

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 771–789 | Cite as

Small Fish in a Big Pond or Big Fish in a Small Pond? The Effects of Educational Mismatch on Subjective Wellbeing

  • Joaquín ArtésEmail author
  • Maria del Mar Salinas-Jiménez
  • Javier Salinas-Jiménez


This paper analyzes the effects of educational mismatch on subjective wellbeing. We first analyze whether a discrepancy exists between the aspirations associated with the level of education acquired by the individuals and the opportunities found in the labor market. Consistent with education generating certain aspirations, we find that educational mismatch has a sizable significant negative impact on life satisfaction for over-educated individuals while the effect is positive for under-educated workers. Next, we focus on workers with different educational levels but who perform similar jobs. In this case we only find under-education to negatively affect life satisfaction levels, a result which is consistent either with the existence of an inferiority complex or a struggle to perform a job for which the individual is not adequately trained. The effects are economically relevant and amount between one-fifth and one-fourth of the impact produced by other negative life events such as unemployment.


Life satisfaction Happiness Educational mismatch 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joaquín Artés
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria del Mar Salinas-Jiménez
    • 3
  • Javier Salinas-Jiménez
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Economía Aplicada IVUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Autonoma de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Universidad de ExtremaduraBadajozSpain

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